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If you're thinking of working abroad.... advice *beep* rant!
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MuscatGary



Joined: 03 Jun 2013
Posts: 194
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 10:42 am    Post subject: If you're thinking of working abroad.... advice *beep* rant! Reply with quote

Not sure if this is the right place, maybe should be in the newbies forum but I've been meaning to do this for a while based on my observations in my 12 (I know others have done more!) years of teaching abroad in Spain, Venezuela, France, India and for the last fours years in the Gulf. Every point I make here is based on direct experience of what happens when people don't do the basics.

So if you are even begining to think about teaching abroad PLEASE:

Do your homework, research the country, the potential employer and the exact location in which you will be based. Arriving in the Gulf and complaining about the heat just makes you look like an idiot. Turning up in Paris only to find that your employer is a charlatan who is all over the forums is downright stupid. Check as many forums as you can and insist on speaking to teachers who are already in situ, if the employer refuses then look elsewhere.

Be realistic about the salary and the cost of living that you will experience, do your sums. Don't arrive and then start complaining about your salary/package, you agreed the deal so wait a year and THEN try to negotiate something better. Don't be shocked when you discover that others are getting paid more for doing the same job, maybe they're more experienced, better qualified or just better at negotiating.

If you are coming to work remember that is what you will be expected to do, not just party away.

If you're not adaptable in your own country you will almost certainly struggle in other places where you will not be protected by the state/family/friends.

If you are employed to teach English the remember that this is why you're being paid. You are not being paid to liberate downtrodden and oppressed people from their wicked regime/religion, they need to do that for themselves and you can get into serious trouble..

Always keep a FU fund in case to need to do a runner, it happens. Never arrive with less than a month's living expenses, you may not be paid for some time.

If you're an alcoholic don't seek respite in an Islamic state, the Gulf is one of the heaviest drinking places I have ever lived. The teacher I replaced in Oman had been found comatosed and surrounded by sixty empty bottles of whiskey, his release papers from a U.S. jail were also on the floor with the condition that he attended AA meetings. He had only been in Oman for 6 weeks....

Never pay an agent for recruitment, if they ask for money it's a scam.

I'm sure others can add to this quick list...

I've seen dozens of teachers come unstuck by not doing the basics, mind you some of them....but that's another story....[/list]
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BadBeagleBad



Joined: 23 Aug 2010
Posts: 783
Location: Juan Aldama, Zacatecas, Mexico

PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great list and advice. I would just add a couple of others.

Don't think just because you have a certificate that lasts one month that you are now a professional teacher. Courses to do nails, cut hair and tend bar last longer than that. If you want to be a professional, get professional qualifications, a degree in teaching or a related topic and you will be surprised at the doors that will open. And the $$ that will follow. No, you are never going to get rich as a teacher, but being a qualified, trained teacher WILL command much more money and better positions.

Don't continually complain about the country where you live, at least not to natives of that country. You are a guest in country "X" and, no, it is not going to be just like the US/UK/Canada and the fact that it is not like your home is to be expected. If you really hate living where you are, maybe it is time for a move.
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1201

PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great list!

What's a FU fund, btw? I read it as something unprintable, but maybe that was the point!

Other tips:

- Read and understand the contract. How many hours are you contracted to teach exactly? What is being offered - accommodation, flights (unlikely in the EU), bonuses or overtime? What about notice period, provision for taxes / social security, travel expenses?

- Stay connected to the outside world. We often get into a little bubble of what it's like to teach and live in our own part of the world. But if things go down the pan in wherever you are (armed conflict in Kuwait / Libya anyone?) it helps to know about other alternatives. Make it your business to always have an eye out for the next gig.

- Beware of oversell. If a language school owner seems desperate to persuade you to work for him / her, try to find out why. It's rarely good.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12019
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Teacher in Rome,

It could also be called a TTJASI fund (Take This Job And Shove It), which may give you a pretty good idea what the "F" stands for. The "U," of course is "You." (Well, not you -it's the employer). Very Happy

Regards,
John
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1201

PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's sort of what I thought John - thanks for the clarification!
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8607
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

- If paid by the hour, how long is the hour you are being paid for? Is it the same as the 45 or 50 min period that comprises your timetable? Or is it really a full 60 min hour? The difference to your salary can be quite significant. Find out in advance - don't assume an hour and a class are the same things.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8607
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

- When teaching English, do not assume your learners are mentally deficient just because of their inability to express their thoughts in your language. Many of them will be much smarter than you or me! Just like the folks back home.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8607
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

- Do not assume that every learner everywhere is interested in or even knows about your pop culture. Trying to explain a lexical item by reference to a Hollywood film may not always work - "Brave means like Mel Gibson in like the movie Braveheart..." For that matter, film titles are also often adapted to local culture.

Besides which many learners read! Not everything cultural is a TV show, film or sporting event.
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JustinC



Joined: 15 Mar 2013
Posts: 138
Location: The Land That Time Forgot

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great advice. I'd like to add don't always blindly take advice from colleagues, however much more experienced they are. They may have been in their job too long and generally feel bad about the school/city/country. Keep an open mind and give any new situation some time before you make any hasty decisions.

(I thought it was a 'Fed Up' fund..
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BadBeagleBad



Joined: 23 Aug 2010
Posts: 783
Location: Juan Aldama, Zacatecas, Mexico

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:
- Do not assume that every learner everywhere is interested in or even knows about your pop culture. Trying to explain a lexical item by reference to a Hollywood film may not always work - "Brave means like Mel Gibson in like the movie Braveheart..." For that matter, film titles are also often adapted to local culture.

Besides which many learners read! Not everything cultural is a TV show, film or sporting event.


Yes, and on a related note, don't teach in such a way that assumes your culture is superior. I once had a teacher tell me that she was trying to teach her students to adapt to American culture and that they just weren't interested.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8607
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, very good point. Sadly I have seen similar too. "I'm trying to make them complete people", and similar hogwash.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9127
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AW. Can't we 'open their minds' and 'teach them to think critically?' That's SO much fun, and clearly the proper role for a language instructor Shocked We are gods and goddesses, after all, right??? I mean, 'cause we know English Laughing
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8607
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Only if it is the Queen's English, dear boy...
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12019
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear spiral87,

In order to write a good Argumentative/Persuasive essay, I'd say critical thinking is rather important.

Regards,
John
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 653
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

johnslat wrote:
Dear spiral87,

In order to write a good Argumentative/Persuasive essay, I'd say critical thinking is rather important.

Regards,
John


I agree with the above, but critical thinking does seem to be rather "Western" in nature. And quite difficult to teach to East Asian students in my experience. Is it ethnocentric of me to expect critical thinking from non-Western students?

Not sure how to handle that.

I chose to teach children, so that is not really an issue.
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